Change must be changed!

Here’s a small experiment you can do:

1) Look in your purse or wallet for dollar bills of any denomination, the more bills the better. Look for the date printed on it, usually near the base of the portrait to the left or right. What is the oldest bill you have?

2) Now gather up your small change, whatever coins you happen to have at the time. Look at the dates on those, too. What is the oldest coin you have?

In most cases, the oldest bill is about five years old, but the oldest coin is easily 20-25 years old. Clearly, coins remain in circulation far longer than a bill can survive, meaning the coin currency gives many more years in service than paper money. So if coins are more cost-effective than bills, why does the federal government waste its time printing $1 bills? Dollar coins last far longer, and they have already made the castings for them! If the Sacajawea (or any other dollar coin) replaced the dollar bill, the Treasury would have to make far fewer of them every year. This would create a savings for the government, and thus help lower the operating cost. Think of what the money currently wasted on replacing dollar bills could be used for: paying down the national debt, reducing the annual budget deficits, increased funding for education and social programs, funding for homeland security, or simply lowering taxes!

But Ryan, aren’t coins easier to counterfeit than bills?

Let’s be honest here: why would any counterfeiter bother with the $1 bill or coin? The gains of making counterfeit $1 coins wouldn’t make up for the cost of making them. The time would be better spent on the $10, $20, or $50 bills, which are indeed relatively secured against counterfeiting. After all, if it were cost effective to counterfeit $1 coins, counterfeiters would be making fake Susan B.’s and Sacajaweas. They already have $1 coins to forge, and the Treasury must not be too concerned with a flood of illegitimate $1 coins. So the idea that $1 bills still exist for security reasons is bunk.

Besides, wouldn’t vending machines and toll booths benefit from common dollar coins? Wouldn’t you rather add a few coins than feed a crinkled dollar bill into the soda machine scanner? Imagine, there would be fewer people in line at the train or bus station waiting on slow machines to dispense tickets. Bill readers wouldn’t jam as often, or reject *all* your bills. And for deciding by random chance, it gives you a more majestic coin to flip.

Is it just me, or did the U.S. Mint pitch the Sacajawea dollar coin as the replacement to the dollar bill? It appears that the new coin has simply replaced the Susan B. (which was a terrible design being as similar as it is to the quarter), and I am gravely disappointed. I was looking forward to a new era of dollar coins, and so far I only get them at the post office and LIRR ticket booths. Hopefully the government will wise up and make the $1 coin standard.

After all, isn’t $1 treated like pocket change already?

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